Friday, May 27, 2016

Mayhem in Madras

I'm back and am pleased to report that I did not get the shits in Madras. I didn't really want to leave India at all, the only downside being that the toilets left a lot to be desired.

We went over for our friend Sanjay's wedding (who's from Madras but now lives in the US), but because he is quite private I promised not to post pictures of the couple getting married, even though they are pretty spectacular.

Still, it was all so amazing I am posting some pictures. And here is my diary....

Day 1

Ever wondered what happened to Noddy? He eloped with Big Ears and now lives in Madras.

Shop like J Lo

Now, I am not a power shopper. I like a leisurely stroll through a couple of department stores, then a coffee, then lunch, then maybe I buy a pair of shoes. So on Day 1 in Madras I felt a bit like a movie star when I embarked on my shopping spree, because I was surrounded by an entourage - Sanjay's aunt, his fiance Abhilasha, plus the driver, plus John, my husband. We were to buy all the outfits I needed for the wedding. I didn't insist on dressing in Indian outfits, but they decreed that three outfits was the only way to go, one for each day of their Hindu wedding. No arguments, they were paying. And since there are few department stores, you drive from tiny store to tiny store. At a jewelry store where I bought some anklets, the shopkeeper was tearing up saris and removing the silver threads from them. He was going to melt down the silver threads to make silver jewelry. That was the first thing that struck me - the total recourcefulness, out of necessity, to reuse every single object. There is very little waste, and even rich people don't throw away food.

The first day was hair raising because no one follows any traffic rules or stops for traffic lights. The pollution burns your lungs and you watch in awe as the driver negotiates the traffic, often passing a hair's width past a motorbike, and narrowly avoiding cars that are casually cruising the wrong way up the street. Against a deafening cacophany of horns, babies and kids sit on the front of motorbikes without helmets. Madras is a lawless city and yet has an easy vibe. People are not stressed. There is no road rage or screaming in the street, people just drive in a very leisurely fashion. Sometimes you see a pile up, but it always ends well, with the motorbike drivers getting up, brushing themselves down and going on their merry way.

We went from shop to shop until I had a sari, one long skirt and a top embroidered with sequins (sharara) and one casual outfit, a long dress over baggy trousers (churider), plus jewelry. Plus they bought John two outfits. Everyone in the shops looked at me like I was part creature from outer space, part Amazonian. I am probably twice as heavy as most of the women there, with their narrow wrists and tiny bodies.

It is nine pm and we are still shopping and I can't believe the sheer amount of clothing that is being bought. The bride has eight different saris for the occasion. It seems that here weddings are quite a big deal!

Day 2

So amazing to see the hotel guests smoking cigarettes at breakfast. Whenever I see smokers in non-regulated environments I get a bit of a kick out of it because smoking anywhere these days is almost akin to shooting up heroin in public.

Took a trip to a gruesome crocodile zoo

and then, after a visit to a Hindu temple

I wondered lonely as a cloud...

pondering what fake ice cream might be...
until I was accosted by a bunch of Indian boys

Not sure what they were after but I think it may have been my cash.

Part Two to follow .....


Ms Robinson said...

Emma you look fab in the sari top thing. I have so many similar pictures from India but I don't have that Noddy Bag. Did you bring one back?

MommyHeadache said...

ms robinson.....Damn and blast it - I forgot to bring back a Noddy bag!!

spew-it-all said...

Welcome back to virtual world, Emma. Glad to know that you had a great time.
Agree with ms robinson, you look gorgeous in sari top...initially i thought that white girl in sari is the next prime minister of India.

Diva's Thoughts said...

I love those pics!! Wow! You looked fabulous.

Vi said...

I hope that 'thank you for not spitting' sign wasn't in your 5 star hotel?!

Electro-Kevin said...

Fantastic. I'd love to visit there.

Great to have you back.

Oliver Gosling said...

Emma, judging by the fronts of their trunks, they may well have been after some sweet punany.

Gorilla Bananas said...

I think you look happiest on the beach, with the breeze cooling you off while the posse of young lads frolicked around you. You'd make a good memsaheb.

Steph said...

lol, you were a freakin superstar over there!

Conortje said...

I am so jealous I have actually turned green - and that just doesn't go with what I am wearing today whatsoever. Good to have you back though!

Gumpher said...

Sounds and looks like you had a good time. I went to a wedding in Calcutta a few years ago, and like you, found the people incredibly generous and welcoming.
Looking forward to part 2.

Helen said...

Gorgeous, Em, Gorgeous!!!! Narrow streets freak the hell out me, the midwest girl that I am. It feels surreal, and I always feel like I'm on a movie set.

Sailor said...

Welcome back! So glad you had fun, I love seeing the photos, and hope you have more!

Misssy M said...

Love the sari- I got a green one quite similar when I was in Sri Lanka. I absolutely love it.

But the getting into it! What a palaver! I have only worn it once since, when a Sri Lankan friend over here helped me put it back on.

Look forward to more photos.

Melissaria said...

Welcome back! India looks amazing, can't believe how many outfits you can get through for just one wedding, though. Looking forward to hearing more!

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

Oh my God, you lucky effing sod! I am spitting out green emeralds here I am so jealous. Can't wait for part two. It looks fantastic.

Steve said...

Looks amazing. Your description of the traffic chaos reminds me of Cairo - no rules except one: size takes priority. It seems to work. I never saw a single accident while I was there.

Peach said...

welcome back em! Love the photos, love the sound of lawless madras, I went to delhi and thought it was a different planet!

Mother Theresa said...

Just came in from Scrivel. I just love saris, that should be the new fashion everywhere. Fantastic pictures. It sounds like a fascinating place.

Daisy said...

that was wonderful emma...i felt for a moment i was there...have always wanted to go to india just to see the culture and experience it for myself...perhaps this should be my next trip...i am so glad you had a good time and hope that it helped with your healing...thank you for sharing it...

Midnight said...

Ooh now that looks like a hell of a trip. The locals look much friendlier than the ones I encountred in South Asia! Did you have your own personal Punkerwaller? I always wanted one of those, but preferably female.

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Dear Mommy,

You look absolutely radiant. You are a true jewel in the British Crown.

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Anonymous said...

Why, you bleedin' liar! All of those pictures were taken in East Ham, Greater London!

I recognise all of those Indian blokes, a few of them have corner shops down the Barking road and I recognised the bloke whos got the carpet shop down Plashet Grove.

The fourth picture from the top is actually taken in front of Barking Park.

Boldly Serving Up Wheat Grass said...

Awesome pics! I went to India in 1994 -- from Bombay down to Cochin & then popped over to Sri Lanka for a while. Those pics really bring back the memories!

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ron have exposed me for the charlatan I am! Yes, the photos were taken in Petticoat Lane.

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